‘A child who has never travelled, will always think his mother is the best cook’, is a common saying among the locals.
Despite Uganda being endowed with lots of unique animals, plants, birds, Great Rift Valley and other geographical features, few citizens have taken a travel-tour around the country.
Jolly Mercy Learning Center, a primary school under CALM Africa, has embarked on a program of promoting local tourism, by taking its pupils to places that are a tourism attraction.
“Teaming up with Link International, we took our pupils and staff to Kasese, in western Uganda, for a four-day tour,” explains James Ssekiwanuka, the team leader of CALM Africa.
The trip was two-fold. The pupils had gone on a tour of one of the most scenic part of the country. But also, JMLC is partnering with a school in Kasese, Kyambura Primary School. This trip gave JMLC pupils a chance to meet and interact with fellow pupils from Kyambura.
As part of the partnership bonding, the pupils from the two schools engaged in a debate, competed in a football match, while the teachers congregated the primary seven pupils into a single classroom for classroom lessons in English, Maths and Science.
“This was intended to introduce the students of the two schools to get to know each other, and also compare notes on the subjects they are studying,” adds James.
After the classroom sessions, pupils from both schools went on a tour around Kasese.“Some of the places we visited include Kyambura Gorge, Kazinga Channel, Bunyaruguru crater lakes and Lake Katwe salt mines”, narrated Joseph Luganda, CALM Africa’s Programs Manager.
“While in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, we saw lots of wild animals, with most of the pupils seeing these animals for the first time. We saw 5 lions, 7 elephants, lots of buffaloes, hippos, Uganda cobs and lots more,” Joseph adds.
“For most of our pupils who come from Nangabo in Wakiso here in central Uganda, it was there first to travel out of the region, and to travel such a long distance. Kasese is about 400 kilometers from here,” James described.
CALM Africa would like to make this a routine tour, and even host pupils and staff from Kyambura Primary School at JMLC.
“We would even like to take some of the parents, accompanied by the pupils, along these tour trips so that the parents also get to appreciate local tourism and encourage their children to explore more,” the team leader revealed.
Uganda is regarded as a number one tourist destination in the region, but most Ugandans haven’t toured their own country. This is the attitude that CALM Africa hopes to change, starting with pupils of JMLC.
CALM Africa strongly believes that children have a right to know and inherit a good sustainable environment.
The rapidly increasing population is exerting more pressure on the environment resulting in the increased need for space, food and shelter, indiscriminate deforestation and poor waste management. They arise due to limited public awareness of the importance of nature and environmental conservation, inefficient socio-economic policies and practices that fail to cater for nature and environmental conservation in light of social and cultural decay and collapse.
We can change this by actively involve young people to take part in local tourism and appreciate the plants and animals we have and be ready to promote conservation as well as appreciate ecological balance.